Despicable Me (2010) PICK
Father Goose (1964) PICK
3:10 to Yuma (1957) PICK
An animated family film, an amiable romantic comedy and a classic Western are among the latest crop of home-video arrivals.
Timed to coincide with the inevitable big-screen sequel, Illumination Entertainment’s surprise hit Despicable Me is back in DVD/Blu-ray editions (with or without 3-D). Like DreamWorks’ Megamind, it’s the story of a colorful archvillain — Gru (Steve Carell), a sort of Dr. Evil without Austin Powers — who is ultimately redeemed.
The twist is Gru’s redemption turns on three adorable orphaned girls who awaken unexpected paternal instincts in Gru. On the family-film spectrum of sincere and sentimental (Pixar) to snarky and ironic (most of DreamWorks), Despicable Me leans solidly toward sincerity and sentiment.
Cary Grant cheerfully plays against a lifetime of typecasting in Father Goose, a modestly entertaining romantic comedy with comic echoes of The African Queen and Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, directed by Ralph Nelson (The Lilies of the Field).
Grant plays a boorish, unkempt boozer corralled into doing plane-spotting duty on an uninhabited South Pacific island during the Second World War. Just when he thinks his situation can’t get any worse, his world is invaded, not by the Japanese, but by seven French schoolgirls and their prim schoolmistress, Catherine Freneau (Leslie Caron).
The opposites-attract formula works well, as Freneau’s strait-laced persona is humanized by unexpected foibles and insecurities, and Eckland’s degenerate character is slowly redeemed by a rediscovered sense of decency and chivalry.
Finally, while I cordially detest the 2007 remake starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, the original 3:10 to Yuma, starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, is a memorable Western that justly evokes comparisons to Fred Zinneman’s better-known High Noon.
Heflin is the impoverished rancher Dan Evans; Ford plays against type as the charming outlaw Ben Wade, who falls into the hands of the law and must be escorted to justice before his gang can rescue him. From the outset, the film uncomfortably implies that by some primal measures Wade is more man than Evans — yet the distance is close enough that Evans can still contend with Wade, even saving his life at one point.
In the end, the rancher may or may not be entirely up to the overwhelming task, but he wins back his self-respect and the respect of his wife, and even, significantly, of the outlaw, which makes a crucial difference. (All this stuff about honor and contending is trashed in the remake. Stick with the classic.)
Content Advisory: Despicable Me: Recurring rude humor; slapstick violence and animated excitement. Fine family viewing. Father Goose: Comic depiction of alcohol and inebriation; some wartime danger. Fine for older kids. 3:10 to Yuma: Much menace and suspense; some deadly gunplay; some innuendo and an implied bedroom encounter. Teens and up.